Time was, the life of a junior investment banker meant making an obscene amount of money for someone just out of college, in exchange for, well, everything. Weekends were a privilege, not a right, all-nighters were a way of life, and if your boss wasn’t barking increasingly onerous demands at you, ripping your head off moments after you turned in a one-hundred page pitch book you missed your grandmother’s 90th birthday to finish, and telling you to do it again, and try, this time, “not to fuck it up,” something was very wrong.
Then the financial crisis hit, and Wall Street started paying less, and junior investment bankers started to do some reflection. “Hey,” they said, “We’re not making the kind of money they talked about in Liar’s Poker and The Last Tycoons. Telling girls we work at banks doesn’t melt panties like it used to and gone are the days of Christmas parties on yachts featuring shrimp the size of a fist and hookers brought in at a ratio of 2:1. And what the hell gives re: dinner allowances when working late? Twenty bucks barely covers an appetizer, entree, and Coke.”
So the junior investment bankers got together, like a long-oppressed people often do, and decided they weren’t going to stand for it any longer. First things first, they were going to start interviewing with hedge funds and private equity firms before their two years of servitude were up. They were going to write books about what a hell-hole their employers were, and how they ripped off clients and probably couldn’t even recite John C. Whitehead’s 14 Business Principles if they tried. They were going to tell each other that the trade off for working 100 hours a week (the possibility of one day having a conversation with Gary Cohn’s grundle) was no longer worth it. They were going to leave for Silicon Valley. They were going to tell the younger generations that there wasn’t much difference between being a junior investment banker and a lawyer.
For one bank, Goldman Sachs, that was a bridge too far. So it got a “task force” together to figure out what it could do to make its junior mistmakers slightly less miserable and after a lot of memos and committee meetings and back and forths finally decided to very generously allow the young people to take some (SOME. NOT ALL.) weekends off, in addition to implementing a new system that minimizes the instances of senior bankers making vague requests of underlings and subsequently being forced to ask said underling if they were “some kind of idiot” and stressing that that was “an actual question” awaiting an actual answer.
Basically, it’s an embarrassment of riches that would have been unheard of prior to 2008 and even today might shock some investment banking vets.
The New York banking company said it has spent the past year working to improve the work-life balance of most-junior employees, known on Wall Street as analysts, by reducing their hours and other measures. The moves come as banks across the industry struggle to keep young workers who increasingly are favoring the better hours at hedge funds and private-equity firms and the lavish perks at technology startups over Wall Street’s grinding analyst programs…Goldman long has been viewed as a fast track to wealth and a wellspring of talent. Some of its top executives began their careers in its much-copied analyst program, which started in 1982. Since then, the programs have become synonymous with grueling work loads, late nights and depressingly frequent orders for takeout food. But earlier this year, Goldman formed a task force made up of senior staff from different businesses within the firm to improve quality of life and promote career-development opportunities for junior employees. It has implemented the task force’s suggestions.
One of Goldman’s goals is to find ways to help young employees finish their work during the regular five-day workweek and avoid all-nighters. Weekend work should be reserved for “critical client activity,” the task force found. For example, when a more-senior analyst commissions a client presentation, the task force has advised asking for a short outline rather than a full presentation that could run 100 pages or more. Goldman also created new technology that makes it easier for senior bankers to let analysts know what kind of information they need. In an attempt to minimize email traffic, the technology lets senior bankers input specific requests through a portal that can be accessed by the analyst anywhere. This allows senior bankers to be more explicit in their requests, ensuring the junior analysts have a shot at getting the information right the first time, a Goldman spokesman said. [...] “The goal is for our analysts to want to be here for a career,” said David Solomon, co-head of Goldman’s investment-banking division. “We want them to be challenged, but also to operate at a pace where they’re going to stay here and learn important skills that are going to stick.”
Enjoy your Saturday, everyone.
Goldman Seeks to Improve Working Conditions for Junior Staffers [WSJ]
Pushes Junior Investment Bankers to Take Weekends Off [Bloomberg]